Low Fat Halloween

Saturday, October 22, 2011
Halloween can be a nightmare if you want to limit the amount of fat and sugar you and your children eat. And while we all know that chocolate treats are high in fat, there are more innocuous-looking candies that have some fat in them, too. I thought I was safe sticking to a pack of Starburst, but no; even these fruity delights have a surprising amount of fat (palm kernel oil is the culprit). And don’t be fooled into thinking that eating a few chocolate kisses here and there, peppered with some fun-size chocolate bars in between, is anything less than a fat and sugar splurge. Fun-size treats can be a good way to exercise portion control, or a way to eat more than we should because they’re oh-so-small.

How to a Have a Fun Halloween Without all the Fat

Consider offering calorie-free treats. By calorie free, I mean fill your bowl with some of the following, which can be bought relatively inexpensively in bulk from party stores, and which are often discounted the week before October 31st (and, of course, the week after, should you want to shop for next year):
  • stickers
  • pencils
  • erasers
  • plastic Dracula teeth
  • mini Halloween-themed notebooks
  • plastic spider/skull/bat rings
  • mini play dough cans in Halloween colors
  • tattoos
  • glow-in-the-dark rubber eyeballs or mini skeletons
  • black and orange friendship bracelets
  • glow sticks
  • sugar-free gum (not calorie free, but a still a good option)

As much as my children love to fill their cauldrons with candy, they’re equally thrilled to find longer-lasting little goodies hidden in their stash. I’ve noticed that whenever I offer a bowl filled with non-candy treats, kids will often choose these over the candies.

Before heading out into the night, make sure everyone has eaten dinner and brushed their teeth. This way, you might have less room to eat much candy, and any pieces that are eaten are less likely to stick to the teeth.

On the subject of dinner, Halloween would be a good time to serve a crockpot meal, so that a healthy, nutritious dinner is ready and waiting while you attend to getting the kids ready for trick-or-treating.

In the interests of safety as much as anything else, make sure the kids don’t open their candies until they get home. Offer them a piece of sugar-free gum that you've supplied if they feel the need to have something to chew on.

Once home, sort through the stash, tossing any no-no’s—for us, jawbreakers, gum balls, and anything that might break my elder daughter’s orthodontic appliance. If you’re more concerned about fat than sugar, then take out the higher-fat candies—those with nuts, coconut, or caramel. Then, if you still have a mound of candy, toss a proportion of what’s left.

Allow your kids to select two or three small pieces of candy, then put the rest away, to be rationed out at agreed intervals over the next week or two, with a cut-off for tossing the leftovers. You could offer an incentive or a trade to sweeten the deal.

Be sure the leftovers are actually tossed, rather than reassigned to mom (or dad). It’s a big waste, but that’s better than a big waist.

Have a happy, healthy, and fun Halloween.

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